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Coming to Southwest: New Routes, More Flights

SmarterTravel

Last week, Southwest published a preview of its extended flight schedule, including details of new and expanded service to a number of cities. Among the highlights:

New year-round flights from January 6, 2016

  • Burbank-San Francisco (three roundtrips daily)
  • Sacramento-Boise (one roundtrip daily)
  • Indianapolis-Chicago Midway (two roundtrips daily)
  • Little Rock-St. Louis (two roundtrips daily)

New seasonal routes

  • Phoenix-Ft. Lauderdale (one roundtrip daily)
  • Grand Rapids-Tampa Bay (one daily roundtrip)
  • Fort Myers-Nashville (one roundtrip daily)
  • Fort Myers-Buffalo (Saturday-only service)
  • Fort Myers-Dallas Love (Saturday-only service)
  • Fort Myers-Providence (Saturday-only service)
  • Fort Myers-Washington National (Saturday-only service)

The new flights are now available to book for travel through March 8, 2016.

The expansion, which doesn’t appear to be offset by cuts elsewhere in Southwest’s winter flight plan, comes at a time when the DOJ has expressed concern that the Big Four airlines, including Southwest, were colluding to keep airfares high by limiting flights and seats.

Conspiracy theorists will surely infer a link between the two events. We’ll probably never know. Either way, the DOJ investigation has given the airlines cover to break with “capacity discipline,” and Southwest has seized the opportunity. If American, Delta, and United do as well, the airlines’ pricing power could erode, forcing airfares to decline.

That would be good news for travel consumers, whomever they have to thank.

Reader Reality Check

Whom should we thank if ticket prices come down?

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This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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